Rising Stars

 

Megan Kounnas &
Kaitlyn Elphinstone
 

  

Cayman has one of the most vibrant
art scenes in the Caribbean, with a wealth of unique artists. Yet it is not
just established artists who are helping to put the islands on the map. Up and
coming artists, most of whom would be unfamiliar to the public, are proving
that youth is not a barrier to talent and age is just a number. InsideOut meets
Kaitlyn Elphinstone and Megan Kounnas. 

Megan Kounnas is
a passionate artist. She likes to work in oil paintings and focuses a lot on
watercolors. But Megan often uses multiple mediums in the same work. And she is
always sharpening her skills, honing her craft to become the best artist she
can be.  

“I feel like I
have changed so much since university, so I feel like I’m going to get better,”
Megan says of her art. 

A former student
at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Megan lived for a while in
Argentina, before moving to Cayman after graduation. She aims to eventually
move to Chicago, where she wants to work with outreach programmes and continue
her art, but for now, Megan is focused on her life and work on the island. The
teacher at Cayman International School says her job and her students are a
source of constant inspiration.  

“My students have
actually really inspired me,” she says. “Some people just know how to work the
materials that are given to them.” 

Megan’s pupils
just pick up the paints and go with what they feel. And lately, what they’ve
felt is their lives in Cayman. 

“It’s interesting
to see their worries and how they can show it visually through art. And also in
the future, it might not be like this, and if they have stuff that they did
when it was like this, it will remind them of how it used to be,” Megan
explains. “And I think that’s what a lot of artists do in Cayman. They preserve
the natural beauty of it.” 

Megan’s art follows
a different method of creation – she follows her mood. When she’s happy, she’ll
capture her cheerful vision. When she’s feeling blue, her work will reflect
that, too. And she tries to have purpose in every piece of art. 

“When I teach my
students … I always try to make sure that everything they do has something to
do with the piece. I don’t always follow those rules myself,” Megan says. “I
say there are no rules.” 

Without rules,
she can soar as an artist. Megan explores her world through art and loves to
learn something about herself and others. 

Isn’t that what art is about?   

It’s about the process for Kaitlyn Elphinstone. As
an artist, it often is.

“Some things might come along and a happy mistake
will happen,” Kaitlyn says. “But when I do have a set exhibition, I like to
have it all tied together with a theme or a concept because it keeps me filed
and organised, and it makes it a bit cohesive, the whole work and the ideas.”

Order, containment, pattern, rhythm – those are the
words that describe her recent work of colourfully-wrapped sea pods in strings
suspended in glass and framed.

Before her latest work, Kaitlyn was studying for her
master’s degree in arts policy and management in London. She had previous
graduated from the University of Toronto with an undergraduate degree in visual
studies. She worked at the National Gallery as an outreach and education
coordinator between her years of studying.

As a child, Kaitlyn moved to Cayman and was always
surrounded with art – her mother draws and paints and her work is exhibited on
island.

“The biggest thing for me was that I could never do
anything wrong. Whatever I drew, it looked right to my mum,” Kaitlyn enthuses.
“That encouragement of you can never fail, you can do it, gave me the
confidence to go on and be creative. To be out there and do whatever I felt
like.”

When she was in London, Kaitlyn took a course in
screen printing. Based on photographs of red snapper, she created some of her
most unique work.

“You take a photographic layer and you paint it over
a grid or a screen, and you put a light through an image and it takes onto that
screen,” she says. “And you power wash all the stuff and whatever is exposed to
light … it’s kind of a process, heavy intensive … then the image comes
through.”

Kaitlyn has also designed pins for the 2010 Youth
Olympic Games in Singapore, in which she used familiar images of Cayman such as
sea turtles and tropical fish.

“I’ve also done a lot of scanned images. The idea of
setting something up and then moving it around and working with it until it
evolves into something else,” she says. “What you’ll see a lot in my work is
that I do like the idea of process.”

Kaitlyn
enjoys the process and her work speaks for itself. It’s colourful and fun, and
clearly resonates with audiences, from Canada to London to Cayman. 
 

rising star 1

Kaitlyn Elphinstone
Brian Wright